An Invitation from the Mercer Island Center for the Arts

June 8, 2015 | by Louise Kincaid

Explore +
Design rendering of MICA's Lobby sheltered with ceiling repurposed from the Coval Pool House Roof

Design rendering of MICA’s Lobby with ceiling repurposed from the Coval Pool House Roof | Contributed Image

Mercer Island Center for the Arts (MICA) is pleased to announce that it will be holding its first widely advertised public meeting about the project on Tuesday, June 23rd, from 7 to 9 pm at the Mercer Island Community and Events Center.

This public meeting will be our first opportunity to introduce MICA as a community asset to the public. The meeting will be led by Board President John Gordon Hill and feature all the members of the internationally-recognized Design Team led by architect Lesley Bain, FAIA, LEED AP, Founder of Framework Cultural Placemaking.

The presentation will focus on the need for MICA, as a focal point for arts and education on Mercer Island. The discussion will also feature a compelling presentation and update on the design elements and timeline. In addition, MICA’s Resident Partners will be in attendance to engage with the community and share their enthusiasm for the project.

A focal point for great art and arts education on Mercer Island

MICA will be a new 38,000 square foot, three theater complex for the presentation of plays, musicals, dance, concerts, recitals, lectures, films, and visual art. This new facility will include a 300-seat Main Stage, 100-seat Recital Studio, 100-seat Theater Lab, classrooms, studios, meeting rooms, office space and community gathering space.

MICA's Main Stage | Contributed Image

MICA’s Main Stage | Contributed Image

The extensive classrooms and studios will be home to great educational experiences in the visual and performing arts for everyone from children to seniors. It will also feature a beautiful expansive, glass-fronted lobby and art gallery that can host galas and receptions, as well as a café and bar.

MICA resident partners – Diverse and Multi-Disciplinary

MICA will provide Youth Theatre Northwest with a permanent home for all its productions, classes, camps and workshops. The facility will additionally provide space for numerous other arts and cultural groups to conduct classes, performances, and other events.

Extensive classes from Children’s Dance Conservatory/Island Youth Ballet, Music Works Northwest, Academy of Music Northwest, Musical Mind Studio, Mercer Island Visual Arts League, Russian Chamber Music Foundation, Pratt Fine Arts Center, Gage Academy of Art, Spectrum Dance and numerous others will keep MICA brimming with activity every day throughout the year.

MICA's Recital Hall | Contributed Image

MICA’s Recital Hall | Contributed Image

The facility will provide a venue for major Seattle institutions such as ACT, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Book-it Repertory Theatre, Teatro ZinZanni, Pacific Musicworks and others who have committed to bring their productions to Mercer Island, thus reaching audience members they might not be able to reach through their “home” seasons. MICA will be designed and built for the needs of existing companies, artists, and educators.

Music in the Park with MICA | Contributed image

Music in the Park with MICA | Contributed Image

Meet the Framework/ORA Team

John Gordon Hill, president and Chairman of the Board is a director and filmmaker with a career spanning more than 40 years of directing and shooting dramatic pieces, documentaries, and hundreds of television commercials. Broadcast clients include the Discovery Channel, Fox Television, CBS, PBS, KCTS, and A&E. Corporate and commercial clients include Philips, Intel, Microsoft, Vulcan Productions, Airborne Express, Kenworth, Nintendo, Simplot, Valley Medical Center, and the Flying Heritage Collection. Hill has been awarded numerous Tellys, Addies, and regional Emmys, a Clio, and a CINE Golden Eagle. Most recent documentary When Seattle Invented the Future, the 1962 World’s Fair (2012) aired on over 240 public television stations. Hill is past board president of Youth Theatre Northwest and has directed 12 plays at YTN. Additionally, he spear-headed the capital campaign and oversaw the construction of Youth Theatre Northwest’s former home. Currently, he is on the Board of Trustees of Cornish College of the Arts since 2004, Immediate Past Chair, and Chair of its Capital Campaign. He is an instructor and lecturer at Seattle Central Community College and the University of Washington and a member of the Directors Guild of America.

Lesley Bain, FAIA, LEED AP, Founder of Framework Cultural Placemaking, is one of the region’s pre-eminent architect/urban designers. Bain’s focus on integrating built space and the public realm will be key to MICA’s success as an arts center, gathering place, and community resource. Some of Bain’s recent work includes design and planning for the Seattle Center, Cornish College of the Arts, City of Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, and the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is also currently helping Youth Theatre Northwest complete their temporary move to Emmanuel Episcopal Church. Bain is nationally recognized member of the American Institute of Architect’s College of Fellows, and a native and current resident of Mercer Island.

Owen Richards, AIA, LEED AP, Founder of ORA, brings design experience of more than 20 performing arts and cultural facilities. A few of his notable projects include the Chihuly Garden and Glass at Seattle Center, Evergreen State College Recital Hall, SIFF Film Center, and art installation design at the Olympic Sculpture Park. Before founding ORA, Richards was a principal at LMN Architects, serving as lead project architect on McCaw Hall, Mercer Arts Arena, Wenatchee Performing Arts Center, and many other major cultural facilities.

The Framework/ORA team is further complemented by its consultant group with a comprehensive and unmatched portfolio of arts and cultural design expertise and project experience. Nationally-recognized firm of OLIN Landscape Architects reflects the importance of integrating MICA into the adjacent Mercerdale Park and ensuring an active and beautiful space along the park edge. Additional members of the design team include recognized theater design expert Adam Shalleck, AIA; acoustical designer Michael Yantis, P.E., of Sparling Associates: structural engineer Jay Taylor, P.E., S.E. and Drew Gagnes P.E. of MKA: mechanical engineers PAE: and Katie Oman of AMS Planning & Research.

Future location on Mercer Island

MICA will be located on City-owned land adjacent to the northwest corner of Mercerdale Park. It will open out to the park, bringing year-round energy and activity and strengthening Mercerdale as a focal point for the town center. MICA will provide facility support for the Farmers Market, the Summer Celebration, the Mostly Music in the Park series, and other community events and amenities.  MICA, together with the City of Mercer Island, ensures that quality open space and preservation of wooded and green space continues to be a primary activity for attaining the community’s quality-of-life vision and protecting and enhancing the environment.

MICA, a beautiful backdrop for the Mercer Island Farmers Market | Contributed image

MICA, a beautiful backdrop for the Mercer Island Farmers Market | Contributed Image

The Mercer Island Center for the Arts will integrate into the Town Center and the wooded hillside setting.  MICA will transform the Mercerdale Park into a year-round community asset, bring new vibrancy to its surroundings and the life of the Island. The integration of the park and the welcoming interior spaces is critical to the project success, creating places where people will share community celebrations, all kinds of cultural activities, and quiet conversations.

We hope you’ll join us for this first public meeting. Learn more at

Louise Kincaid is MICA’s Executive Director. You can contact her at 206-715-7671 or at [email protected].